Ice Hockey

Oscar Fantenberg #5 of Team Sweden is challenged by Milos Kelemen #12 of Team Slovakia in the first period during the Men's Ice Hockey Bronze Medal match between Team Sweden and Team Slovakia on Day 15 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Indoor Stadium on February 19, 2022 in Beijing, China.
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Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026


Ice Hockey

A lightning-fast, intensely competitive team sport, hockey is one of the events that draws the most spectators to Olympic arenas. As we look forward to Milano Cortina 2026, let’s learn everything about this sport.



Ice hockey is a dynamic and exciting team sport in which the players use a stick to hit the puck into the opposing team’s goal.

There will be 2 events at Milano Cortina 2026:

  • Men’s tournament
  • Women’s tournament




Ice hockey originated in Canada in the early 19th century, although the word 'hockey' derives from an Old French word, 'hocquet', meaning 'stick'. Around 1860, the ball was replaced by a disk, and in 1879, two students from McGill University, Robertson and Smith, set down the first rules.

The first recognized team, the McGill University Hockey Club, was founded in 1880 when ice hockey became Canada's national sport and spread throughout the country. In 1892, the Canadian Governor General established the Stanley Cup, which was first won by a team representing the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association.

In the 1890s, the sport expanded south of the Canadian border to the United States, with the first documented game in 1895 between Johns Hopkins and Yale universities. Ice hockey arrived in Europe shortly thereafter, and the first Olympics to include it in the programme were the Summer Games in Antwerp in 1920.

Olympic History

Men's 6-person ice hockey has featured in the Winter Olympics since 1924 in Chamonix, while women's ice hockey made its official debut in 1998 in Nagano. Given the history of the sport, it is no surprise that Canada dominated the early tournaments. However, in 1956 and until its break-up, the Soviet Union became the team to beat, with its supremacy interrupted by the USA in 1960 at Squaw Valley and in 1980 at Lake Placid. The semifinal would remain in the annals of sports and beyond, given its political as well as sporting implications. The Americans, surprise victors over the Russian masters, still remember it as ‘The Miracle on Ice’. Since the mid-1990s, Sweden and the Czech Republic have joined the club of gold medalist countries, while Canada has triumphed in three of the last six editions of the Olympics.

Basic Rules

An ice hockey game normally lasts 60 minutes, divided into three periods of 20 minutes each. The game is won by the team that scores the most goals.

There are normally no ties in ice hockey. If the score is still tied at the end of a game, an overtime period is played, which ends immediately with a goal by one of the two teams. If neither team has scored at the end of overtime, the game is decided by a shootout.

Men's ice hockey teams consist of a maximum of 25 players: 22 skaters and 3 goaltenders. Women's teams consist of 23 players, 3 of whom are goaltenders. During the game, a maximum of 6 team members can be on the ice at one time. This typically consists of 5 skaters and one goaltender, but the goaltender can be replaced by a sixth skater in special situations.

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